D'Coach, High Star, Puerto Banus: Three to Watch This Weekend

D'Coach, High Star, Puerto Banus: Three to Watch This Weekend
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If you're looking for big prices for the Kentucky Derby, you won't find them in the "all others" mutuel field. Or if you like a longshot in the current Future Wager field who is running this weekend, you almost have to hope he loses in order to get a decent price. So, it might be best to just bet your longshots in these races and take what you can. Of all the stakes this weekend, the Florida Derby offers the most value by far.

We've always liked Nokoma, but let's face it, if you didn't play him at 43-1 in the first Future Wager, you're not going to make a killing on him, whether you play him in Pool 2 or simply bet him in the Florida Derby, where he is the likely third choice.

There are two horses in the Florida Derby, however, who should be good prices, and a victory or even a second-place finish would catapult them right to the top of the leading contenders list. They are D'Coach and High Star. Each horse has done something this year that has left a lasting impression. Although most people think of D'Coach as a late-closing stretch runner, it's been his acceleration on the far turn that stands out the most, and then the ability to sustain it. This horse is already rolling by the time he turns for home. Blinkers should help keep his mind on business. He has as strong a mile and a quarter pedigree as any 3-year-old, and he has the same kind of running style as his sire Dehere, keeping his head down and unleashing that powerful acceleration. Although he certainly can win the Florida Derby, he only has to show he fits with these horses. Could be a strong each-way horse in the exacta.

The one horse whose action in the stretch has impressed us the most is High Star. We love the way he changed leads and glided down the stretch in his last start. He has beautiful, smooth action and can really level off. He still hasn't shown any knockout punch, and we really don't know what his best style is yet. But if he can lay about four or five lengths off the pace and just level off the way he's been doing, he has shown enough in his last several races to suggest he has the ability to keep getting stronger as the race progresses.

While Booklet and Harlan's Holiday are tough, classy colts, they're certainly not world beaters, and will be the two solid favorites, so there's no real bargain in that respect. And Booklet will have to contend with Nokoma's recently purchased stablemate, Smooth Jazz, who appears to be in here strictly to soften up the speed. Nokoma has been working brilliantly and should be ready for a big effort. Blue Burner also gets blinkers and should improve off his third in the Fountain of Youth. But remember, we're talking about Bailey and Mott, so he also could be down pretty low. Bargain-wise, this year's Florida Derby could be a good spot for a new face to jump into the picture, and that looks like D'Coach or High Star, or even both.

In the San Felipe, Siphonic is likely to be 3-5 and lower, and there is absolutely no reason to think he'll get beat. But, if you don't want to just sit back and watch, then you should get a good, solid run from Puerto Banus. Although he was no match for USS Tinosa in the Sham, you have to remember, he went into that race with only two career starts behind him, with his previous start coming only nine days earlier. USS Tinosa, on the other hand, not only had eight starts under him, six of them were in stakes and he won or placed in all of them. Puerto Banus is a rangy, long-striding colt who should improve with racing. He's coming off a bullet mile work and a sharp 6-furlong drill, so he now has the bottom he needs to catch up to the horses who have more racing experience. We also like the fact that he won his career debut coming from the clouds going 6 1/2 furlongs. As we've said, he's really bucking history, not having raced at 2, but if he shows he can compete with Siphonic on Sunday, then he should only keep getting better.

So, there are three price horses you might have some fun with this weekend, regardless of how you play them. And, if they prove they're good enough, it might be worthwhile to remember that all three are on target to peak on the first Saturday in May.

Finally, if you're looking for a real megabomb in the Future Book, you might find him in Gulfstream's third race Saturday. His name is Monarchoftheglen, a colt we've discussed on numerous occasions. Right now, he's purely a guess, but he showed enough good things in his last start to suggest there is vast improvement to come. It will have to begin Saturday against some hard-knocking colts, but if he is Derby material, he should get by this hurdle, and then he'll be a name people will start taking notice of. The other colt in this race to keep an eye on down the road is Buddha, who was very impressive breaking his maiden last time out at 7 furlongs.

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